The Critique of Mass Media in the Funny Games

The movie under consideration is headlined Funny Games. Michael Haneke has shot it. It basically represents a psychological thriller produced in Austria. The plot of the movie is rather intriguing as it demonstrates the classic criminal drama with the elements of exaggerated violence. The plot involves two men who tend to kill the families that arrive to the certain site in Austria. In this case they hold a family as a hostage torturing them and forcing to participate in various painful and unpleasant games.

The movie starts with the demonstration of the happy Austrian family consisting of three members: Georgie, the husband, Anna, the wife and their son, Georgie and dog Rolfi. On the way to the house they meet their neighbor Fred with two Vietnamese men who eventually tend to challenge the courtesy of the family by introducing into their private life and dwellings. After a series of manipulations, the family becomes hostages of the strangers, Paul and Peter who encourage them to bit whether they will survive until next morning. In the course of the actions Geogie reveals that the neighbor family is dead. He tries to shoot the strangers and fails. After that Paul and Peter kill Georgie and Georg. In the morning they placed the body of bound Anna on the boat and then threw her into the water. The movie then continues from the very beginning when the intruders introduce themselves to another family that has previously visited the deceased family reproducing the circle again.


Considering the overall appeal of the movie, it should be stressed that it demonstrates to much violence and is a great example of mediocrity. Just as two psychopaths challenge the family, the movie challenges the psych of the viewers. The movie itself is considered to be opposing to the tradition of the mass media culture in its representation of the violence and related topics. The presented paper will discuss more in detail the argument supporting this position.

Fist of all, it should be stressed that the movie actually demonstrates that everyone can become a victim of the crime and that there is no law or reason for the crime committing. Aside from the abundant violent scene, the movie does not clearly provide what has made these two intruders so mad at the humanity so that they started to kill the entire families regardless of their members and their feature. Such an appeal actually makes the viewers to become more frightened and suspicious in regard to their family members, friends and relatives. On the other hand, the movie demonstrates the killing of the dog and the child stressing that no one can escape from the violence and that sometimes criminal disrespect all the principles that rule the criminal world. Such scenes as the killing of the child (though remote one), stripping of the woman and killing her in the boat actually tests the mental thresholds of the audiences through the one-dimensional provocation stemming from the screen.

From the very beginning the movie tends to shatter the viewers and their perceptions. In the middle of the road trip when the family dives deeper into the countryside Georg is looking for the music and switches from one channel to another. However, out of the blue sky he manages to turn on the disturbing rock music that shatters the sense of peace and sets the beginning of the story. Such a mere scene actually demonstrates the vulnerability of the family on vacation and the vulnerability of those who stops to be cautious enough. Such people become less resistant to the safety hazards which is definitely wrong considering the stage of the society development we all live in. Such a demonstration of the vulnerability of the most unprotected people has not been usual for the movies that have been created during those years. In such a way the director challenges the standards in he media and introducing more violent uncertainty into it.

It should also be stressed that the scenes of the physical violence are the entire screens. Perhaps, it makes the movie less traumatic; yet, not significantly. The point is that the film is about the psychological experiences of the victims of the funny games and the main focus here is made on the state of the victim and the overall vulnerability that might stem from the actions of the intruders (Orr). The cleaning of the violent scenes does not necessarily mean that the movie is morally correct and that it can be acceptable. On the contrary, it breaks al the stereotypes regarding the safety within the family environment and at times when the person turns off all the locators of the danger. The movie actually does not portray the bowing off one’s innocent head. But still, it demonstrates the warm corpse and the scene going on simultaneously. And whereas Haneke hides the scene of Anna’s stripping, he still demonstrates her underwear for the better part of the hour. In other words, it should be asserted that despite the absence of the open violent scenes, the violence is still well present in the movie due to the abundance of the emotionally and psychologically difficult moments in the movie. And the feelings that have once been experienced by the viewers will definitely not let them as easily as the witnessed scene of mere violence.

Another important element of the movie that it both, sadistic and hopeful, refers to the end of it. In the course of he film every of the characters has most probably asked himself about the probability of the successful end as well as the outcome of this story. At the sometime, it should be stressed that the end of the story was not expected to be optimistic due to the contest concluded by the parties. The family simply did not expected to survive this torture. On the other hand, the members of it still hoped that they would get out of the trouble eventually. All in all, it should be stressed that the chance that everything would end up could have provided the members of the family with the additional power to struggle. Yet, the viewers obviously realized that the end would not be in favor of the family. Such a determination transcended through the movie as the medium for transferring the ideas to the greater audiences actually creates a powerful negative effect on the viewers since the accepted inevitability actually deprives one of the life strength and willingness to go on struggling.

The Funny Games actually oppose to the traditional media in the representation of the violence. The director himself acknowledged that this movie was a kind of excuse that he had made for producing of his earlier works, especially the Lemmings. He claimed that the Funny Games is a good European alternative to the “bad” Hollywood films demonstrating the open scenes of the violence and claiming that those films were thrillers. The Funny Games are almost free from the open violent scenes; yet, the gift of the producer, Hanake, revealed in the demonstration of the indirect violence and the physiological pressure put the viewers’ shoulder. It is particularly noticeably in the scene of Georgie’s killing when one of the intruders kills the boy whereas the other one is preparing the food in the kitchen. Such demonstration of the acts of killing makes the murder a part of the routine life and it is perhaps, the most terrible and the most appealing idea that stands behind the director’s idea. To show that the murder can perpetrate into any kind of location, relation or setting actually pus the viewers on fire. It destroys the stereotypes regarding the safety of the family circles and regarding all the measures that might be taken by the humanity to ensure one’s safety.

All in all, it should be stressed that despite the masquerade organized by Hanake, the movie Funny Games tends to be extremely violent in terms of the psychological impact on the viewers. It shatters the stereotypes of the ordinary viewer in regard to the safety of the routine concepts such as family, vacation, relations etc. It makes them more suspicious and fearful of the others. Additionally, it makes the murder a part of the routine that occurs side by side with the ordinary activities such as preparing of the food. The critique of the mass culture as demonstrated in the movie refers to the ignorance to the open violent scenes and revealing of the violence through the indirect perspective of the director of the movie. The physical violence here is served together with the psychological violence that seems to be primary in this conjunction. Overall, the effect that is made on the viewers is definitely stronger than n case of the traditional horror movies with the wide exploitation of the violence. Here, the accent is made on the creation of the doubt and uncertainty feelings in the viewers which do not fade out as simply as the mere scenes of violence demonstrated in the traditional movies.

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